UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — To limit community spread and transmission of COVID-19, Penn State’s contact tracing process now includes online COVID-19 reporting forms for students, staff and faculty to easily submit information about students who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who identify themselves as close contacts of students who have tested positively. Faculty and staff may also report information that a student shares with them about their COVID status or their close contact with a positive individual.
Information obtained from the forms will help University Contact Tracing and Student Support Services respond efficiently to known positive cases of COVID-19 on campuses and their close contacts, to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Two forms are currently available through Student Affairs’ COVID-19 support website. The Student COVID-19 Self-Referral form collects self-reported information from individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, or who believe that they are a close contact of a positive case. The General Contact Tracing Referral form allows faculty, staff and students to anonymously report information about other students who have shared information about a positive case with them, or those known to have close contact with a positive individual.
The goal of the information gathering is to help focus on identifying, notifying and monitoring students who have come in close contact with a student who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 while they were infectious. The forms are not meant to report COVID-19 conduct violations, which can be reported through the Office of Student Conduct.
To support the privacy of those involved in the contact tracing process, the identity of the student or employee who makes the report, as well as the individual who has tested positive or is presumed positive, will not be shared. The University will provide confidential notifications to faculty or instructors of in-person classes or supervisors to enable accommodations and support for affected individuals. Instructors and supervisors will not share the identity of the individual with classmates or colleagues. Beyond these notifications, the University will only share information about an individual’s health status as needed and as appropriate if there is a concern for the safety of the campus community.
The following steps outline the contact tracing process and what students and employees can expect:
- Step 1: Penn State will identify individuals who are diagnosed with COVID-19 through University testing processes or referrals.
- Step 2: Staff will initiate contact with positive students and employees.
- Step 3: Contact tracers will communicate with employees and students identified as close contacts about quarantine expectations and support.
- Step 4: Case managers will reach out to students in isolation/quarantine to provide support and will notify faculty and instructors if a student is not permitted to attend class.
Full details regarding the University’s contact tracing process were initially announced by Penn State on Aug. 25. Since then, University Contact Tracing and Student Support Services has worked to enhance health and safety measures at Penn State and to mitigate virus spread. Additionally, the Office of Student Affairs has recently updated its list of frequently asked questions for quarantine and isolation and provided a comprehensive resource for students who may be affected by quarantine or isolation. In addition to these resources, a variety of information and resources for instructors and students is available at keepteaching.psu.edu and keeplearning.psu.edu.
For the latest updates and information on Penn State’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, including frequently asked questions and information specific for students, faculty and staff, visit virusinfo.psu.edu.